Research from Credas Technologies, the leading anti-money laundering checks provider, reveals that fees paid to HMRC by estate agents for anti-money laundering (AML) supervision have increased by 205% annually.
Since 2018, businesses have been legally required to register for AML supervision from HMRC, a process which costs £300 per business premises that needs supervision. However, following this initial registration fee, businesses are also required to pay ongoing annual renewal fees.
This renewal fee has increased dramatically over the past few years. In 2015, the price was £110 per premises per year. In 2017, this was increased to £115 before being increased again in December 2017 to £130. Most recently, however, the fee has seen its most dramatic increase when, in 2019, it rose to £300 per premises per year.
This means that estate agents now pay £5.98m per year for AML supervision, ranking it second only to money service businesses (£10.65m) as the highest paying industry.
This total bill for the estate agency sector comes after a 205% annual increase from £1.96m the year before, driven by a vast increase in the number of premises being registered for supervision which itself rose by 32% on the year, from 15,063 to 19,920.
The only industry to experience a bigger rise is accountancy which has experienced a 41% rise in registered premises leading to a 225% in total fees paid.
Tim Barnett, CEO of Credas Technologies, says:
“With the UK property industry such a common target for money launderers, it’s great to see that more and more estate agents are fulfilling their duty to become AML compliant, particularly during a period of such heightened market activity when the threat of money laundering is naturally going to be higher.
Of course, while this greater compliance is a plus, the sums paid on an ongoing basis may certainly make you wince, particularly given the sharp increase in the fees charged by HMRC in recent years. However, even £300 per branch is a small price to pay in comparison to the huge fines you could be subjected to should you be found in breach of AML regulations.
However, despite being a legal obligation, HMRC’s supervision does not provide any of the necessary training or company frameworks required to help prevent your business from being targeted for money laundering and criminal financing. That’s still up to you to implement, but luckily, with the rising capability of technology and automation, doing so is easier and more affordable than ever before.”